Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Should it stay or should it go: News outlets scramble to cover Britain’s decision to exit the European Union
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Feb. 4, 2016, 11 a.m.
Mobile & Apps
SIAPP_featured

Sports Illustrated’s new app has video “baked into every channel”

“Video is one of the highest priorities we have. We wanted to make it front and center.”

Sports Illustrated is releasing a new app Thursday that emphasizes video and prioritizes SI’s stable of well-known writers over scores and other real-time information.

SI_App_1After users open a video in the SI app, they can scroll down and the video minimizes into the top left-hand corner of the screen. They can then continue to explore other sections of the app. When they’re done watching, they drag the video into into the middle of the screen to make it disappear.

“Video is one of the highest priorities we have,” Sports Illustrated Group editor-in-chief Paul Fichtenbaum told me. “We wanted it fully baked into every channel on the app.”

In 2014, the magazine launched SI Wire, which is made up of 30- to 60-second news videos, and it recently added Mustard Minute, a similarly formatted video series for Extra Mustard, SI’s lifestyle and comedy section.

“That’s what sponsors are looking for,” Fichtenbaum said, regarding video. “That’s what our audience is looking for, more importantly.”

A number of other publications, such as The Washington Post and CNN, have added a similar feature onto their websites. The YouTube app also lets users shrink the video into a corner and continue browsing.

In addition to letting users multitask, this approach to video makes it easier for publishers to track video views for advertisers.

The sports app landscape is highly competitive. ESPN, Yahoo Sports, and several league-run apps are all featured in Apple’s Essential Apps collection. Last month, Facebook launched Sports Stadium, a section dedicated to live sports coverage. SI hopes its name-brand writers and editorially focused approach help separate it from other apps. (It’s not an accident that the scoreboard tab is the farthest to the right on the app.)

“Our writers are a differentiator for us,” Fichtenbaum said.

SI_App2The new app’s homepage is a personalized feed of stories based on the writers and teams that users choose to follow. Another new feature is “10 Spot,” a tab that features 10 trending stories chosen by the app’s editors, including some culture and lifestyle coverage. (The 10 Spot tab follows a trend toward finishable products, as outlets from The Skimm, with its daily newsletter, to The Economist, with its Espresso app, have tried to move away from the overwhelming, never-ending story stream.)

The SI app also includes a more general news feed that is sortable by sport, and a separate scoreboard. Individual scoreboards can be pinned throughout the app, so you can keep tabs on the Celtics-Pistons score while also reading Peter King’s latest dispatch from the Super Bowl.

Users can choose to receive notifications for individual games and specific writers they’re interested in, so every time Tom Verducci or Grant Wahl posts a new story they’ll get a push notification.

Sports Illustrated launched its iPhone app in 2009, but that ultimately evolved into an app featuring digital editions of the weekly magazine as SI decided to focus its mobile resources elsewhere. In 2014, after SI and other Time Inc. publications spun off from Time Warner, the magazine introduced a redesigned responsive website.

SI is just the latest publisher to renew its focus on apps even as social platforms like Facebook take on outsized importance in connecting readers with content. The Times of London just released an app directed at an international audience, and Quartz plans to launch its first news app this year. The Wall Street Journal is reportedly planning a series of new apps.

Sports Illustrated is also releasing a new Swimsuit app to coincide with the release of the oft-criticized but high-selling Swimsuit Issue later this month, Fichtenbaum said.

A couple of newly relevant benefits of apps are that they offer paths around mobile adblockers (the SI app has display ads throughout, plus pre-roll video ads) and enable the use of push notifications.

Quartz, for example, purposefully eschewed an app when it launched in 2012 because it wanted to reduce barriers between readers and content, but now that it’s more well-known, an app became a more attractive strategy, publisher Jay Lauf told me last month.

“One of the things that changes the landscape with apps is notifications,” Lauf said. “Notifications are an increasingly popular mechanism for staying abreast of news and information and staying connected with brands. Apps certainly give you the opportunity for that.”

Photo by Shan Wang/Nieman Lab

POSTED     Feb. 4, 2016, 11 a.m.
SEE MORE ON Mobile & Apps
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Should it stay or should it go: News outlets scramble to cover Britain’s decision to exit the European Union
Online, readers stayed up for the results: Peak traffic to BBC News, for instance, was around 4 a.m. GMT, and by 11 a.m. BBC.com had received 88 million page views.
Acast wants to get new audiences “in the podcast door” with more diverse shows and better data
With a new paid subscription option and its sights set on non English-speaking countries, the Swedish podcasting startup is looking for listeners (and shows) beyond the iTunes set.
“Medium’s team did everything”: How 5 publishers transitioned their sites to Medium
What happened when Pacific Standard, The Ringer, The Awl, The Bold Italic, and Femsplain moved their sites over to Medium.
What to read next
0BuzzFeed’s Another Round podcast is partnering with a social audio app to let listeners submit their stories
The podcast is working with the app, Rolltape, to make it easier for listeners to submit their own audio.
0In 60 days, drone journalism will be legally possible in any U.S. newsroom
“There are still challenges, and we haven’t even talked about state and local laws that have been piling up while the FAA lumbered toward today. But the future of drones in journalism is much brighter today than it has ever been.”
0Honolulu Civil Beat, after six years of trying life as a for-profit, is becoming a nonprofit after all
The Pierre Omidyar-backed news site is dropping its paywall and launching a membership program as part of the change.
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Public Radio International
Forbes
Twitter
Creative Commons
O Globo
The Fiscal Times
The New Yorker
Suck.com
Amazon
Voice Media Group
Conde Nast
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism